Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. W. David Wilson - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. David W. Boykin

Third Advisor

Dr. Bruce Armitage


Structure-specific recognition of nucleic acids is a promising method to reduce the size of the recognition unit required to achieve the necessary selectivity and binding affinity for small molecules. It has been demonstrated recently that G-quadruplex DNA structures can be targeted by organic cations in a structure-specific manner. Structural targets of quadruplexes include the planar end surfaces of the G-tetrad stacked columns as well as four grooves. The significant structural differences between quadruplex DNA and duplex DNA make quadruplex DNA a very attractive target for highly selective, structure-specific drug design. We have used a variety of biophysical techniques including circular dichroism, surface plasmon resonance, thermal melting and absorbance spectroscopy to investigate small molecules that can selectively bind to the ends of human telomeric DNA as well as the ends of the G-quadruplex structure formed by the purine-rich promoter region of the c-MYC oncogene. We have also screened a library of heterocyclic diamidines, and identified one that binds selectively in the grooves of human telomeric quadruplex DNA. This compound is an excellent starting point for the design of new anti-cancer and anti-parasitic compounds with high affinity and selectivity for human telomeric DNA.


Included in

Chemistry Commons